Growing up, I had one of those “prepared moms.” We always had extra, just in case. As a kid (and especially a teen), I thought she was nuts. Why have all of this extra on hand, just in case?! Let’s eat the tuna! Drink the water! Live a little! Now that I am an adult and a mom – I TOTALLY GET IT!
In October of 2015, South Carolina experienced the “1,000 year flood.” My daughter was 7 months old and I was already on high alert for all the things that can go wrong when you have a new baby around. Now, add storms and flooding to the mix? I was a mess. I was following weather news almost 24/7 and learned a lot of things that have helped me through other weather events that have followed.
What to do NOW
1. Stock your pantry.
Next time you go to the grocery store, buy a few gallon jugs of water and bottled water. Get some food that does not need to be cooked, microwaved, or refrigerated. If you have an infant and you are breastfeeding, pump some breastmilk to freeze and save or purchase formula to set aside. Stock up on snacks your family likes. Get food for your pets. Put everything in a special place in your pantry, maybe even in a basket or a bag that makes it easy to grab and go, if needed (don’t forget the can opener and things like paper plates, napkins, utensils, garbage bags).
2. Find actual, reliable weather experts to follow on social media and ignore everything else.
This is important. Things get crazy on social media during weather events and it becomes hard to know what is fact, what is projection, what is REAL. I really only follow two people on social media for storm/weather coverage – Tim Miller from WIS-TV and Chris Jackson at South Carolina Weather. Also be sure that you are following your school district’s OFFICIAL page on social media. You want to be updated about school closings, but you want to hear it from the source. Don’t trust your neighbor or kid for this. Also be sure that your child’s school has your correct phone number in their call out system.
3. Think about what your family will do in case of a weather event.
We are currently in hurricane season (until November 30). So, think about what your family will do if a hurricane comes through our area. What do you do if the power goes out? Do you have a well? What will you do for water? What if you have to boil water for an extended time? What if you have to evacuate? If a tornado comes through, where is a safe place in your home? Do you live in a mobile home? What can you do to remain safe? We do not often have snow events, but just in case – think about the plan for that too. If there are icy roads, what will you do? What if your power goes out? How will you keep everyone warm? Think about what you will do if a weather event happens when you are at work and your kids are at school. How will everyone get home? Have a friend in mind who can keep your kids if you get stuck.
4. Download weather apps.
There are many weather-related apps out there and just as with social media, be careful about the ones you download. I like – WIS FirstAlert Weather, The Weather Channel, Tornado: American Red Cross, and Hurricane: American Red Cross.
5. Stock up on supplies.
Buy some batteries (check the sizes you need first!), extra flashlights, a first aid kit, candles, matches, board games or other games that do not need electricity for your kids. Make sure you have pillows, blankets, sleeping bags – whatever you need in case you have to sleep in a hallway during a long night of tornado watches/warnings. Purchase some hand warmers that hunters use in case you lose power during a snow/ice event. Put all of these things in one spot for easy access.
What to do When There is a Weather Event
So, Tim Miller and Chris Jackson have said it is GO time, what do you do? First, don’t panic. If you have done the things above, you are just about ready to wait it out. But, you are not done yet.
1. Check your pantry stash.
Make sure nothing has expired. Make sure no one got into the snacks. If so, go to the grocery store. Do not buy milk or bread, unless it is something you really like to eat. Maybe pick up a few more gallons of water, just in case.
2. Take your pantry stash and supplies and move it to a safe place.
Make your safe place cozy and fun for your family. Make sure it is big enough for everyone – pets too!
3. Find paperwork.
Make sure you know where important documents are and put them in freezer bags or somewhere safe. Make sure you know what to do after the storm passes, if you have damage to your home or cars.
5. Fill your bathtubs with water.
Also consider filling all other available containers with clean drinking water.
4. Charge your electronics.
Nothing is worse than wanting to connect with others and the information you need, only to realize you’re battery is at 10%. Did you know you can report a power outage online?
6. If your power goes out, try not to open your refrigerator and freezer often.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
7. If you are told to evacuate – GO!
Don’t wait and see. Just go.
8. Fill up your car with gas.
Storms could render gas stations inoperable and you never know when they will be back open for business. Filling up ensures you are able to get where you need to go should you need to leave your home.
I like to be in control of the situations around me and weather is just one of those things none of us can control. We can be prepared, however. In addition to the tips above, here are some other great resources to help you prepare for any weather events that may come your way.
- Preparing for the Hurricane: Other Tips You May Not Have Considered
- Ready.gov: Make a Plan
- The South Carolina Emergency Management Division